We are dismayed by attacks on Afghan journalists by the Taliban. Not only have local reporters been subjected to violence, but women have been forced out of the profession and over 150 news outlets have closed in recent weeks.
For decades, Internews worked alongside creative Afghan media entrepreneurs as they fostered a vibrant media sector that, at its height, employed thousands of women, reached every province large and small, and became one of the most trusted institutions in the country. We will not watch that progress be erased.
We commit to supporting Afghan media during the current crisis and for the long haul. Here’s what we and others can do:
- Offer asylum for those at risk. The US and other Western governments should assist Afghan journalists seeking to leave the country, including journalists who work for non-Western media outlets, and provide appropriate asylum options.
- Support quality content production. International support can help media outlets maintain the flow of information to Afghans at a time that trustworthy news and information is vital to navigate compounding health, economic, and political crises. In particular, outlets need support in establishing digitally secure, remote operations.
- Counter mis/disinformation. Robust systems should be established to track mis- and disinformation so that journalists can fact-check it in real time and provide accurate counter information. Social media platforms should engage with civil society, including journalists in the diaspora, to identify ways to reduce mis- and disinformation on platforms.
- Provide digital security. Journalists in and outside of the country need tools and training to ensure their own digital security to thwart attempts to suppress free expression.
- Track violations. Attacks on journalists and other efforts to undermine the free press should be tracked and those responsible should be held accountable by the international community.
For twenty years, Internews has supported local media in Afghanistan – and we will continue to champion the sector now and into the future.